James started his studies in wine in the early 1990s at Charles Sturt University after being beguiled by a particularly good bottle of Penfold’s Kalimna Shiraz and thirst for knowledge about wine. He served his apprenticeship under John Cassegrain at Cassegrain Wines in the Hastings River region of NSW and established strong links with Az. Agricola Ricci Curbastro, making fine sparkling wines in the Franciacorta region of Italy.
An excellent opportunity presented across the ditch in early 2004 to run what was then Tairawhiti Polytechnic’s Certificate in Wine and managing its vineyard and winery operations and wine labels- Waimata Vineyards and Cognoscenti Wines. Further vintages at Ricci Curbastro and Giant Steps wine in the Yarra Valley ensued before starting at Indevin in Gisborne in time for 2012 harvest and moving to Hawke’s Bay in 2017 overseeing winemaking operations as Production Winemaker. In July 2022 James started in his role as Winemaker at Sileni and has been involved in a range of domestic and International Wineshows since 2005.